The Grand Conversation

Featuring Our Cognitive Surplus

One of the ironies of blogging is that in pursuit of the grand conversation, the epitome of Web 2.0 togetherness, writing often takes precedence over reading and the chance to comment on some-one else’s blog dwindles with each new post. Those of us who work professionally as writers and editors feel this the most, partly because we read so much in our line of work anyway, but also because a small distraction in a day can set a project back by hours. And if it’s not done by six o’clock, you just have to keep working into the night. Or on the weekend. So as I try to do from time to time I’m using this post to highlight a blog that I really should be commenting on, Greg Sadler’s new effort, Our Cognitive Surplus.

Many bloggers are sceptical about new blogs, wanting evidence of longevity before the initial burst of enthusiasm can be evaluated. But my opinion is that silence never encourages, and that enthusiasm grows with enthusiasm returned. Greg left a couple of very pertinent remarks here earlier in the week, on both my rudimentary (and yet to be tested!) comment policy and my recent consideration of Roman historiography. They struck me as intelligent and meant very much in the spirit of conversation, so I visited his blog to see what else he’s been ruminating about.

Greg writes from Canberra in Australia, and while his focus is by no means on the city, he does capture its essence in one brief burst – his comments on being accosted by evangelical Catholics in Civic had personal resonance for me, having lived thereabouts for six years. Canberra is very often a city of extreme and contradictory opinion, thrown about without much consideration for whether anyone is listening. Greg’s also perceptive in his assessment of the encounter, considering the importance of beliefs expressed even as he rues the lack of an internally functional paradigm within much religious debate. In other words, reason flies out the window all too often when dissent dares object to the received wisdom.

You might not agree with everything Greg writes, but that’s the whole point. He wants to start a conversation, and disagreement is inherent in any dialogue. So Greg, if you’re reading this, I will reply to your comments soon and I’m sure there’ll be much more to talk about. To everyone else who cares to converse, pay Our Cognitive Surplus a visit. It’s just beginning, but there should be a great deal more to come.

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2 Responses to The Grand Conversation

  1. Greg Sadler says:

    Hey, thanks for the write-up! Means a lot to me. I totally understand that longevity means clout. I know from archives that the 2.0 personalties I really like posted for many months before their ball really got rolling. I suppose the best example is the “Vlogbrothers” from youtube . They ooze with talent from their very first moment, but don’t gain a solid viewer-ship until 6 months into their year long project.

    On conversation, obviously that’s the key value-add of the media, but it’s cumulative with old-media value. Once upon a time people would write for themselves because turning an idea into writing helps clarify it and keeping a personal record of ideas is useful. 2.0 aspirations don’t make those old benefits obsolete.

    Thanks again!
    – Greg Sadler

  2. Mike Poole says:

    Hi Greg, no problem. As you can see, I’m still late with the replies! On your last point, I agree entirely – I began to write this blog to help myself work through ideas, so there was an element of both World 1.0 and Web 2.0 in it.

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